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quote from Heather Falcone


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Name: Heather Falcone
Biz Name: Flirt
Location: 252 Smith Street, Brooklyn
How Long Been in Biz: 5 years

Photo of Flirt clothing store
BPL: How and why did you decide to start this type of biz?
HF: I came to NYC to be an actress and my sister came to be a rock star.

As a way to make money, I had a vintage store on Atlantic Avenue before Flirt, but there was a fire. Then my sister and I first opened Flirt as a vintage store and a tea room. Then over the years the store morphed more and more into a clothing store.

We started to do our own line. We knew artistic young women who needed a venue to show their work and we thought it would be cool to give girls who are artists a place to sell their stuff like a women's collective. We opened with an "it's great to be a girl" kind of attitude.

Seryn, my sister, is the biz person. I am the visuals, and our other partner, Patty, is a clothing designer. The Flirt line is done by Patty and we are expanding into full lines in the fall.

BPL: What were the first steps you took to get started?
HF: I went with my gut. My husband asked, "What do you know about retail?" I said, "I know what I like. People always comment on what I choose. People love the way that I decorate."

With the first store, I took the plunge. I saved money and knew some people in the biz. For me, the only way to learn was by doing. I had taken some design classes drawing, design, draping, etc. We were fortunate that we started with a very small space and were able to learn along the way. My sister calls me the starter. I'm the idea person.

BPL: What Brooklyn organizations and resources would you recommend to others looking for help and assistance in starting a new biz?
HF: One time early on I went to SCORE for some advice on biz plans and they were very nice and helpful with the nitty gritty practical stuff.

BPL: What methods have you used to get the word out about your biz? How did you select these methods? Which do you think is most successful and why?
HF: We really haven't done a lot except for word of mouth marketing. We tried advertising in local papers and found that it's not our demographic. We feel that you really need a PR person so we are in the process of hiring one.

BPL: What is the best thing about being in biz for yourself?
HF: The plus is that for us, it's creative. It's very satisfying. We still feel that we are creating all the time.

You are your own boss, which is nice. On the one hand, you are driven from within. If something comes up, you can make the decisions when need be. There's a certain pleasure in having people buy your stuff.

BPL: What do you think is the most difficult aspect of being in biz for yourself?
HF: Minuses are all the pressures on you. You go out on a limb. We just started wholesaling with better known designers. You take the risk. You take the risk that people will like what you are picking. It's a more personal risk than when you work for someone else. It's hard work. Not like a job that you go to from nine to five. When 6 PM comes, you aren't necessarily done.

It's hard to find a balance. But that's also the benefit. The personal satisfaction and pride in what you are doing keeps you juggling.

BPL: If you were to do one thing differently in starting your own biz, what would it be?
HF: I would try to be more organized with the nitty gritty. For example, it would have been good to have a better understanding of sales tax. It has always been challenging for us to get up to speed on the boring side of things.

BPL: What's the one most important piece of advice you would give someone else about starting a biz?
HF: Love what you are doing. You have to be excited about what you are doing. You only should do a biz that you have a passion for. Otherwise, what's going to keep you going during the bad times?

Even though it is hard and risky, I'd recommend it. It's also fun. For women, it's nice to do it as we've done it.